Flamenco & Exile

Thank you for supporting Flamenco & Exile. The presentation is presented by the Spanish Theatre Group at the University of Virginia. Below, you will find the English translation of the spoken text in this performance. The English translation begins in Part II and is subdivided to facilitate reading and follow through. 

Translations were completed by the students of SPAN 4040 at the University of Virginia under the direction of Erica Cobb, Adam Cohn, and Melissa Frost. This production is supported by the UVA Parents Fund, University of Virginia Library, UVA Center for Global Inquiry + Innovation, and the UVA Department of Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.  



Sevilla. July 26th, 1875. At 4:30 in the morning, in the Palacio de las Dueñas, a baby boy is born, Antonio. His cry breaks the silence of the idyllic scene. The fountains fall silent, the flowerpots watch, the night is still. The summer breeze of Sevilla joins the past and future in Ana’s hands; it is her namesake day, the feast day of Saint Anne. She does not realize this now, but the body she holds in her arms will one day be lifted over hers, lifeless, in a hotel room in France, after many travelled roads. But these first steps are warm on Andalusian soil, and soon it becomes nostalgia-as happiness is something that always occurs in the past. And there, in the past, are the courtyards in which Abuela Cipriana sang ballads and favorite folk songs. They smell faintly of tuberose and carnations, and there the pale-yellow lemons grow under the blinding, scorching sun. There, in the Palacio de las Dueñas, is his father’s study. The door to the garden is left ajar. He is overheard talking to himself, and sometimes even singing.

The light of Seville: the palace where
I was born, with its gurgling fountain.
My father in his office. High brow,
short goatee and drooping moustache.

My father is still young. He reads, writes,
leafs through his books and meditates. He rises,
goes toward the garden gate. Walks about,
now speaking to himself, now singing.

His large eyes with their unquiet glance
seem to be wandering, unfocused, to
where they come to rest in the void.

They escape from past to a tomorrow
where they look pityingly through time—
O my father— at my graying head.



My childhood is memories of a patio in Seville
and a bright orchard where lemon trees ripen;
my youth, twenty years on the soil of Castile;
my life, a few events as well forgotten.

Not a seducing Manara, nor a Bradomin-
by now you know my plain, almost monkish dress-
yet I was struck by Cupid's dart; have been
in love wherever I found welcomeness.

Coursing my veins are drops of Jacobinic blood,
but my poetry springs from a serene fountain;
and more than an upright man who knows his doctrine.
 I am, in the good meaning of the word, good.

I love beauty, and true to modern esthetics
have cut old roses from the garden of Ronsard,
but I dislike the rouge of current cosmetics,
and am no chirping bird in the latest garb

I disdain the ballads of those tenors hollow
like the choir of crickets singing to the moon.
I stop to note the voices from the echoes
and listen, among the voices, to one alone.

Am I classic or romantic? I do not know.
I would leave my verse as a captain his blade:
known for the manly hand that made it glow,
not for the smithy's famous mark or trade.

I chat with the man going with me to the end-
who speaks alone, hopes to speak with God one day;
my soliloquy is talk with that good friend
who showed me the secret philanthropic way.

In the end I owe you nothing. For what I write
you owe me. I work and pay for the house I rent,
the clothes that cover me, my bed at night,
and the plain bread that gives me nourishment.

And when the day for my final trip arrives,
and the ship, never to return, is set to leave,
you will find me on board with scant supplies,
almost naked, like the children of the sea.



June 12th, 1914. Antonio Machado remembers his Abuela Cipriana –– her summertime ballads, her ancient wisdom and serenity. In his journal, Machado recounts this childhood memory:
I do not remember exactly what time of year it was when people had the custom of buying children sugar cane-what my fellow countrymen call cañas dulces. But I do recall a sunny morning when I was 6 or 7 years old, sitting with my grandmother on a bench in the Plaza de la Magdalena with a sugar cane in my hand. Not far from us another child passed by with his mother. He also had a sugar cane. I thought to myself, ‘Mine is much bigger.’ I remember how sure I was about this. However, I asked my grandmother, ‘Isn’t it true that my cane is bigger than that boy’s?’ I had no doubt that she would agree with me. But my grandmother replied immediately in an authoritative but affectionate tone that I shall never forget: ‘On the contrary, my child, that boy’s cane is much bigger than yours.’ That seemingly trivial incident has had a great impact on my life. All that I am – good and bad – whatever there is in me that is integrated or disintegrated – I owe to the memory of my sugar cane.


The children were singing-
ingenuous songs, -
of something that passes-
and never arrives: -
the story confused-
and the sorrow clear.

The serene fountain-
went on with its story: -
with the story erased, -
of the sorrow it told.



The languid lemon tree suspends -
a branch, dusty and pale, -
over the charm of the clear fountain, -
and there in the depths-
 the golden fruits dream... –

It is a clear evening.

nearly spring, -
a warm March evening -
that the breath of coming April brings;

and in the still courtyard, I am alone, -
seeking an illusion, innocent, old: -
some shadow on the white wall, -
some memory sleeping on the stone-
 of the fountain’s edge, or, in the air, -
 the drifting of some diaphanous gown.

And in the evening atmosphere that-
 scent of absence floats, -
 which says to the luminous soul: never, -
and to the heart: hope.

That scent which evokes the ghosts-
 of fragrances, virginal and dead.

Yes, I remember you, clear and joyous evening, -
 nearly spring, -
the evening without flowers, when-
 you gave me sweet perfume of mint-
and of sweet basil, -
that my mother grew in pots of clay.

You saw me dip my white hands-
 into the waters serene, -
 to reach the enchanted fruits-
that deep in the fountain dream...

Yes, I know you, clear and joyous evening, -
nearly spring.



Madrid. August 9th, 1904. Abuela Cipriana dies. The voice of childhood stories is extinguished; the world is shut off. She is buried next to her granddaughter, Machado’s sister, who died at age 14.

Juan Ramón Jiménez describes Don Antonio’s situation in a telegram:

“Madrid. The widowed Abuela sold the house. The mother is useless. The entire family lives on the abuela’s measly salary. The house is dismantled. The family pawns their furniture. Already the men don’t work. Picaresque house. The sale of old books. Abuela is dead.”


I have walked along many roads,
And opened paths through brush,
I have tied up on a hundred shores.

Everywhere I’ve gone I’ve seen
Excursions of sadness,
Angry and melancholy
Drunkards with black shadows,

And academics in offstage clothes
Who watch, say nothing, and think
They know, because they do not drink wine
In the ordinary bars.

Evil men who walk around
Polluting the earth…

And everywhere I’ve been seen
Men who dance and play,
When they can, and work
The few inches of ground they have.

If they turn up somewhere,
They never ask where they are.
When they take trips, they ride
On the backs of old mules.

They don’t know how to hurry,
Not even on holidays.
They drink wine, if there is some,
If not, cool water.

These men are the good ones,
Who love, work, walk and dream.
And on a day no different from the rest
They lie down beneath the earth.



January 9th, 1907. At random, Antonio picks a ball bearing the number 22 from a box. His verbs, divisions, grammatical errors, people, numbers, tenses, conjugation. The past and future now hold the number 22. His mother always had a preference for even numbers. Those were the good years, those of the best harvest, she used to say. The number 22 claims Antonio Machado as its own. On the 4th of April, the Education Board gathered. It’s the 4th of the 4th, all is even. There are seven vacancies for French teachers. The poet is offered the fifth. Only three locations remain: Baeza, Mahón, and Soria. Machado chooses Soria, the fields of Castilla, the impossible balance of even numbers and the banks of the Duero River.


A stork has appeared high on the campanile.
Chirping swallows are circling the tower
and solitary mansion. Gone is white winter
with its snowstorms and crude blasts from the inferno.
It is a mild morning.
The sun gently heats the poor Sorian land.

Shunning green pines that are almost blue,
spring is seen
burgeoning in the slender
poplars of the roadway and by the river. The Duero flows limpid, tamely, mute. The fields seem not young but adolescent.

In the grass a lowly flower is born, white or blue. Beauty of the fields barely flowering and mystical spring!

Black poplars by the white road,aspens by the shore, foam of the mountain
against the blue remoteness,
sun of day, brightness of day!
Delicious land of Spain!


December of 1907. Antonio Machado moves to the pension owned by Isabel Cuevas and Ceferino Izquierdo, proud parents of three children: newborn Antonio, ten-year-old Sinforian, and Leonor, age thirteen. Machado, usually calm-hearted, feels his breath quicken every time

Leonor walks beside him. What did a thirty-two-year-old professor see in a girl of thirteen? Perhaps her voice that climbed the bell towers? Her laughter that seemed to mock the hours? Maybe his late sister, deceased at the same age? Young Leonor had a suitor, a village barber. Machado left behind a poem, “with careful carelessness.”

 And the girl that I love
ay, she would rather marry
a young barber

Less than two years later, on the 30th of July, at 10 in the morning, with even numbers
overlooking the altar of the church of Santa María la Mayor, Antonio Machado and Leonor Izquierdo are married.


Last night I had a dream —
a blessed illusion it was—
I dreamt of a fountain flowing
deep down in my heart.
Water, by what hidden channels
have you come, tell me, to me,
welling up with new life
I never tasted before?

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamt of a hive at work deep down in my heart.
Within were the golden bees
straining out the bitter past
to make sweet-tasting honey,
and white honeycomb.

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamt of a hot sun shining
deep down in my heart.
The heat was in the scorching
as from a fiery hearth;
the sun in the light it shed

and the tears it brought to the eyes.

Last night I had a dream–
a blessed illusion it was–
I dreamed it was God I’d found
deep down in my heart


With honeyed lips, to the banks of Seine. Paris. July 14th, 1911. France celebrates Bastille Day. The light is beautiful, the city is beautiful, life is beautiful... but Leonor coughs. They discover blood. The horror. Happiness is fragile, happiness never occurs in the future, the future is anxiety, a doctor emerging from the festive crowd, a word that weighs more than any other: tuberculosis. The white plague advances, blind, without consideration.

The couple returns to Soria. Ana Ruiz comes to the aid of her son. Leonor is dying. She receives last rites. On the first of August, an odd number, with a lonely heart, Leonor Izquierdo dies and her soul drifts through the air of Castilla after death cuts a thread between two.


One summer night
 —the door of my house
and my balcony were open—
death entered my house.
Without glancing at me
it approached my bed,
and with very fine fingers
broke something frail.
Silent, without glancing at me
death passed by again.
What have you done?
Death did not respond.
My little girl was still,
my heart in pain.
Oh, what death broke
was a thread
between us.



The train advances, leaving behind the plateau of La Mancha. The poet flees, or better yet, returns, to the land of courtyards and ballads. The train crosses the Despeñaperros ravine and appears to submerge into a sea of olive trees. These are the fields of Jaen. The train comes to a halt. The traveler believes that he has arrived at his destination. He leaves the station only to find he is in Úbeda, still 16 kilometers away. Luckily, a tram runs between the two Andalusian cities. Machado observes the landscape where he will walk many times thereafter, in the midst of a land that he comes to describe as “practically illiterate,” but where he also finds people who are good, hospitable, and kind-In this path through a sea of olive trees.


Traveler, your footprints
are the only road, nothing else.
Traveler, there is no road;
you make your own path as you walk.
As you walk, you make your own road,
and when you look back
you see the path
you will never travel again.
Traveler, there is no road;
 only a ship's wake on the sea.


A year after settling in Baeza, Don Antonio sends Juan Ramón Jiménez an autobiographical note written as if it were destined for an anthology but was never published. Machado writes:

“On the first of November 1912, I was transferred to Baeza where I currently reside. I have never had a calling to be a teacher, let alone a professor. Nevertheless, I aim to fulfil my obligations. My lectures in the classroom have consisted mainly of philosophy and literature, although I too have a fondness for the sciences.

I believe myself somewhat educated in Spanish literature. I possess a deep love for Spain as well as an entirely negative view of it. Everything Spanish simultaneously enchants and infuriates me. My life has been defined by resignation, rather than rebellion; yet, from time to time, I experience defiant impulses that coincide with moments of optimism and cause me to blush in regret.

I feel a great aversion toward all that I write once it is written. My greatest torture is to edit my compositions before they are printed. This explains why all my books are plagued with errors.

My true passion is traveling. I believe myself familiar with certain regions of Alta Castilla,

Aragón, and Andalucía. Although I am not very sociable, I still hold great affection for my fellow man. 

I made a mess of my youth. While I indulged in drink, I was by no means an alcoholic. However, four years ago I finally broke free from this vice. I have never been a seducer of women, and I detest pornography.

I adored my wife, and never once thought to remarry. I believe that Spanish women achieve an insurmountable virtue, yet their predominance and enormous superiority over men has prompted the decline of Spain.

I abhor politics. I detest the mundane clergy that seems to me another institution that degrades the poor. 

In general, I prefer average people over aristocrats, and country life over city life.

It appears to me that our national problem seems irresolvable due to lack of spiritual virility, but I believe we must fight for the future and establish the faith we lack.

Truth that condemns the present is of more value than prudence that tries to preserve it, always at the cost of what is to come. Faith in life and the dogma of utility appear to me both dangerous and absurd. 

I deem it opportune to combat the Catholic Church and claim the people’s right to conscience. I am convinced that Spain will die of spiritual suffocation should we fail to break these iron shackles.

For there is no greater obstacle than hypocrisy and timidity. 

This is NOT a question of culture but of conscience – one can be cultured and respect the fictitious and the immoral. Even before speech and bread comes consciousness.”


Outside my window
the Baeza country
bright in the moon.
Mountains of Cazorla,
Aznaitín and Mágina!
Even the cub hills
of Sierra Morena
all moon and stone!

Over the olive grove
the owl could be seen
flying and flying.
Country, open country.
Among the olives,
the whitewashed farms.
The black oak, too,
halfway down the road
from Úbeda to Baeza.

Through a tall window
the owl found a way
into the catedral.
Big old St. Chris,
seeing it at the lamp-
the Blessed Virgin’s lamp-
drinking up the oil,
tried to scare it off.
Up spoke the Virgin:
Now just let it drink,
Christopher, old thing.

Over the olive grove
the owl could be seen
flying and flying.
In its beak it brought
a sprig of Green
for Holy Mary.
Country round Baeza,
I’ll be dreaming of you
when I cannot see you!

Wherever he goes
José de Mairena
takes his guitar.
His guitar goes with him,
slung from his shoulder
as he rides along.
His horse he keeps
Tightly reined in,
neck held high.

Olive trees gray,
white of the roads.
The sun has drawn
all color from the land.
Even your image
has begun to wither
in the dusty mood
of dispirited days.



November 26th, 1919. Antonio Machado arrives in Segovia to assume his post as chair of the French Department of the Technical Institute. The Tierra de Segovia newspaper welcomes him with the headline: “Antonio Machado, poet of Castilla, returns to Castilla.”
Upon reading this, Don Antonio believes it to be true. His soul is now more Castilian than
Andalusian for his deepest sorrow dwells there. Don Antonio has traversed the roads of Spain light of luggage, but baring the weight of all he has lost. He has seen men of the field s and the towns be capable of such dangerous vices and savage crimes; he believes he has seen the shadow of Cain fall across the frontiers of Spain.


The man of this country who burns the pine
 and waits for his plunder as spoils of war
 long ago razed the black oak groves,
 laid waste the great oaks of the mountain woods.

He sees his sons flee their dwellings today,
the storm take away the soil of the earth
through the sacred rivers to the wide seas;
on cursed plateaus, he suffers, works

He belongs to a line of rugged wanderers,
shepherds who lead their nomadic hordes
to Extremadura, the flocks of sheep
that the dust stains dark and the sun turns gold.

Long-enduring, cunning, small;
high cheekbones, deep distrustful eyes
that dart from under heavy brows
drawn on that face like a crossbow’s arch.

he bad man of the country and of the village is here,
with his insane vices and bestial crimes,
who in his brown cloak hides an ugly soul,
 who is slave to the seven deadly sins.

His eyes ever cloudy with envy or sorrow,
he guards his own prey and covets his neighbor's,
neither fights his poverty nor enjoys his wealth;
he grieves for both fortune and misery.

The god of these lands is bloodthirsty, cruel:
as the afternoon fades over the distant knoll,
you will see the form of an archer loom,
the form of a giant centaur with bow.

You will see plains for warriors, plateaus for hermits
 —the biblical garden was not of this land—;
this is country for the eagle, a piece of planet
where crosses the wandering shadow of Cain.


You searched for me one day
Never I for you, Guiomar,
And I have trembled at my image of late
Curious mirror of my solitude.

June 1928. Pilar Valderrama, a 39-year-old poet, arrives in Segovia with a letter of introduction written by a mutual friend. She wants to meet the admired poet, Antonio Machado. Their first encounter occurs in the lobby of Hotel Comercio. Machado trembles, she is beautiful: it is the sun’s final hour. But Pilar is married with children and cannot offer him anything other than a sincere friendship. Machado accepts and she goes on to become all of Guiomar, the forbidden love of Don Antonio, with whom he traverses Madrid and Segovia until 1935, when Pilar cancels their secret weekly rendezvous, citing unsafe streets as an excuse. They continue corresponding by letter until March 1936, when Pilar moves with her family to Estoril.

From sea to sea between us is the war
now deeper than the sea. From my parterre
I watch the sky-bound water, Guiomar.

Then you appear upon a finisterre,
watching another sea, the sea of Spain
that Camoes sang to us, a murky sea.
Goddess, your memory is a well of pain,
and can my absence be your company?




July 18th, 1936. The Machado siblings are in Madrid, all except Manuel, who has

travelled to Burgos with his wife. Antonio Machado has the urge to write on behalf of the

defenders of the Republic.

“If my pen were of equal worth to your captain’s gun,
I would die happy,” he writes. 

Machado does not doubt this for a moment. On July 31st, his signature appears in the newspaper El Sol under the headline: Government Receives Support. “We are on the side of the government, the Republic, and the people, who with exemplary heroism fight for their freedom.” In addition to Machado, Ramón Menéndez Pidal, Gregorio Marañón, Ramón Pérez de Ayala, José Ortega y Gasset, and Juan Ramón Jiménez, among others, all add their signatures. 

Spain is split asunder, bleeding out with a frozen heart.


Now there is a Spaniard
who wants to live and begins to live,
 between one Spain that dies
and another Spain that yawns. May God keep you, little Spaniard
that to the world is born.
One of these Spains
will freeze your heart.


September 8th, 1936. Madrid’s press reports the murder of Federico García Lorca. Upon hearing the news, Machado writes a short text in his notebook that will later turn into his famous elegy to Federico:
September 8,
I received the news in the morning paper. Federico García Lorca has been murdered in Granada. A group of men, men!, a firing squad of beasts riddled him with bullets in some corner of the city of the Genil and the Darro, the rivers to which he sang. Woe is you, Granada! Worse off will you be if you share the guilt of his death. The blood of Federico, your Federico, will not dry with time.
Yes, Granada, Lorca was your poet. So much so that he became the poet of todas las Españas by being the rhythm of your heart.

4. THE CRIME TOOK PLACE IN GRANADA (Recitation and Song)

For Federico García Lorca


We saw him go, rifles on either side,
Down the long avenue at dawn’s cold plain,
Quiet beneath the stars.
There, as the light took aim, they shot him down.
The firing squad all shut their eyes and prayed:
“Not even God Himself will save you now.”
Blood on the brow, lead in the heart, he fell.
The crime took place at Granada,
You know poor Granada his Granada.


We used to see him walk alone with her,
Unfearful of her sickle.
Sun on the towers, hammer on anvil ringing,
And Federico, in his courteous way,
Would talk with Death, and she would listen:
“Yesterday in my verses, Comrade Mine,
The dry rasp of the palm was heard,
 Chilling the song, cutting the drama down
With the bright silver sickle.
And so I’ll sign the flesh that is not thine,
The eyes that fail thee now, hair that the wind
Would shake, oh, long ago, and the red lips
That fellows used to kiss.
Today as yesterday, my gypsy Death
How well it is to be alone with thee,
O Spirit of Granada my Granada!”


We saw them disappear.
Engrave, O friends,
Deep in the stone and the dream, for the Alhambra,
Deep in the stone and dream, a poet’s tomb,
Beneath a fountain where the water weeps,
Weeps, and forever says:
The crime took place at Granada his Granada


January 27th, 1939. A day, a month, a year like no other. His heart is filled with the darkest shadow. This is exile. Antonio Machado crosses the border of France with his mother. They spend the night in a boxcar. It rains. It rains on the land of France. They are drenched. Doña Ana is 84 years old. Machado suffers beside his mother, disoriented, confused. The old woman asks if they will soon be in Sevilla. But fate has other plans. The train stops in Collioure. They arrive with nothing. Don Antonio has left the bag containing his dearest mementos in the ambulance that brought them to the border. They have traveled so lightly that they only have the clothes on their back. They have lost the war; they have lost their country; the future is veiled.


Lord, what I most loved you tore from me.
Hear again this heart cry out alone.
Your will was done, Lord, against my own.
Lord, now we are one, my heart and the sea.


Two rooms in the Quintana Inn are their grave. The cold deathbed. The final hours. Pauline Quintana welcomes the poet, his mother, and his brother José. They are put on the second floor. Don Antonio and Doña Ana are in room five. The family never goes down to the dining room together, because between the two brothers there is only one shirt. When one is done eating, he goes up and gives the shirt to the other. One afternoon, Don Antonio goes down to give Pauline a small jewelry box. It is full of dirt. “This is the earth of Spain,” he says, “if I die in this town, I want to be buried with it.”


Blind, he asked for the light he could not see
            then he carried, serene,
            the clean glass to his cold lips,
            filled with shadow–oh, dark shadow—to the brim.


Darkness lurks. The moment tastes of rain. José writes about his brother, Don Antonio’s final stroll through Collioure.

He could not survive the loss of Spain, nor overcome the anguish of his exile. That was the state of his spirit in Collioure while he was still alive.

A day before his death, while trying in vain to arrange his hair in front of the mirror, and with his eternal love of nature, he said:  “Let’s go to the sea.” We set out for the beach; it was his first and last time going out. There we sat on one of the boats that rested on the sand.

The midday sun was barely warm. It could be said that it was the one time of day when the body buries its shadow under its feet.

It was very windy, but he took off his hat, securing it with a hand on his knee, while the other rested out of habit on the crook of his cane. Thus, he remained transfixed, silent, before the constant ebb and flow of the waves that tirelessly swelled as if under a curse that would never let them rest. After a long period of contemplation, he said to me, pointing at one of the humble fisherman huts: “I wish I could live there behind one of those windows, free of all concern!” Then he got up with great effort and walked laboriously on the restless sand, in which his feet almost sunk completely, and we began the return in complete silence.


I dreamed you led me
along a white footpath
through green fields
toward the blue of the sierras,
toward the blue mountains
one serene morning.

I felt your hand in mine,
your companion hand,
your child's voice in my ear
like a new bell,
the pristine bell
of a spring dawn.
It was your voice and hand
in dreams, so true!
Live, hope, who knows
 what the earth devours!


February 18th. The village doctor visits room number 5. Doña Ana lies unconscious in the bed closest to the door. Don Antonio feels a strange pain in his chest and struggles to breath. The doctor delivers a bleak diagnosis. Realizing he is dying, Don Antonio becomes agitated. For a few moments, he tries to tell his mother something she does not hear. She does not wake up. They spent many hours together in that state. The two of them alone, each one stretched out on a bed in a room in France, with death circling them. Who would it choose first, mother or son? Once again, Fate draws number 22 with Antonio’s name. On the 22nd of February 1939, Don Antonio screams.


She cannot hear him. A veil of sleep covers her eyes and muffles her ears as Antonio dies. The room is so small that they must lift his body over the bed where his mother lies unconscious. A few hours later, the inexplicable occurs. Doña Ana wakes up surprisingly lucid and asks for her son. José answers that she should not worry, that they have taken him to the hospital, but that all is well. The woman, sure of her son’s tragic fate, cries, sobbing inconsolably like a poor girl, until she slips into the deep sleep of her final journey, the two of them, together again, aboard the ship that will never return.


And when the day for my final voyage arrives,
and the ship, never to return, is set to leave,
you will find me on board, light on supplies,
and almost naked like the children of the sea.

Section Part III: EXILE


The army of the Ebro,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
The army of the Ebro,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
One night it crossed [the river],
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
One night it crossed [the river],
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
And the invading forces,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
And the invading forces,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
We gave them a good beating,
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
We gave them a good beating,
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
The fury of the traitors,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
The fury of the traitors,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!

Is in what their airplanes drop!
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
Is in what their airplanes drop!
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
But their bombs can do nothing,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
But their bombs can do nothing,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
Where there is still heart left!
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
Where there is still heart left!
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
[Their] counterattacks are fierce,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
[Their] counterattacks are fierce,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
So we must resist them!
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
So we must resist them!
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!

Even as we fight,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
Even as we fight,
Rumba la rumba la rumba la!
We promise to resist them!
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!
We promise to resist them!
Ay Carmela, ay Carmela!


My name is Rafael Alberti.  I was born in Puerto de Santa María on December 16th, 1902. I was friends with all of the poets of my generation, with whom I lived and fought for a better country.  During the war, together with my wife, writer María Teresa León, we attempted to rescue the many works of art from the Prado in Madrid, threatened by the bombings of Franco’s army. In the end, we embarked on an exile that took us through various countries, first through France and later through Argentina and Italy. The arrival of democracy in 1977 opened the doors for my return to Spain, where I participated in politics as a member of the Spanish Senate.

What I Left For You
I left my sacred woods for you,
my secret grove, my sleepless hounds.
I ran my best years into the ground,
almost into the winter of the life I knew.
I left a trembling, a sudden cry,
the flash of unending conflagration.
I left my fevered illumination
on the blood-stained eyes of a last goodbye.
I left sad doves where the river unwinds,
horses waiting in the sun-drenched dirt.
I turned from the sea to face your view.
I left all that, all that was mine ...
So give me Rome for all I’ve hurt,
for I’ve left that much to be with you.


Those who are exiled are left with nothing, on the edge of history, alone in life and without a home: without a place of their own. My name is María Zambrano and I was born in Vélez-Málaga. Nobody knows, not even me, if it was April 22 or 25, 1904, but I lived almost all my youth between Madrid and Segovia, where my father made friends with Antonio Machado. Under the beautiful distinction between ideas and beliefs of Ortega y Gasset, my mentor, I discovered hope. But I lost it all in the war. I crossed the border with France in January 1939 with my mother and my sister Araceli, in the same car that had transported the President of the Republic, Manuel Azaña. I could make out Machado and his mother among those who were fleeing, but he refused to get into the vehicle because his place, he told me, was with the people. I walked alongside him for the last kilometers that that the poet saw of Spain. I lived exile as if it were my homeland, a foreign homeland, in Mexico, Havana, Rome or Paris. I returned to Spain in 1984, wearing a long white coat.

Beneath the flower, the stem;
Above the flower, the stars,
Beneath the stars, the wind.
And what lies beyond?
Beyond, don’t you remember? Nothing.
Nothing. Mark it well, my soul.
Sleep now, fall asleep in the nothing.


My name is Juan Ramón Jiménez. I was born in Huelva in 1881.
When I was a child I had a pet donkey named Platero. He was very small, furry and soft; so soft that he seemed to be made entirely of cotton, without any bones. Just like my sad Spain.
Of that boy I once was I still have my violet soul, my sad aria and the ballad of spring. My home was a boarding house, just like Antonio’s, and all the gardens of midday.
I spent forty years falling in love every day with Zenobia Camprubí Aymar. I crossed an ocean to marry her amongst the behemoths of New York.
When the Republic fell, Antonio and I fell with it. During my years in exile I roamed from Cuba, to Miami, to a place they call Maryland and then, Puerto Rico.
Before the end, they gave me a very prestigious prize that was void of Spain. I joined Zenobia in 1958 after…

…The Final Voyage

… And I will be gone. And the birds will
keep to their song;
and my orchard will remain, with its tree of green and
well of white.

Every afternoon, the sky will be blue and still
and the bells of the tower
will toll as they toll
this very afternoon.

All those who loved me will die
and the town will renew each year
and in some corner of my florid orchard
My nostalgic spirit will roam.

And I will be gone; and I will be alone, without a home, without a tree of green, without a well of white,
without a sky, blue and still.…
and the birds will keep to their song.


My name is Concha Méndez.  I shared literary works, poems and anxieties with the members of the Generation of ‘27.  I was forced into exile after the war in the company of my husband as well as the esteemed poet, Manuel Altolaguirre. Reflecting on the war itself, I note that the Spanish fell into a trap set by those on the outside, that under the pretext of defending political ideals they ended up murdered alongside brothers, friends, and neighbors. My exile sent me to live in France, England, Cuba, Argentina, and Mexico. I didn’t feel a desire to return to Spain until 1966. My homeland was not the same, and it left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Before, when I gazed out at the ocean
My heart from my breast
Would begin to sing.

Now, when I look out at the ocean,
I listen to my heart
And it begins to cry…


My name is Pedro Salinas.  As soon as the Civil War broke out, I fled to the United States.  I accepted an offer to teach at Wellesley College in Massachusetts.  Due to my connection to the Second Republic, it was impossible for me to return to Spain, my beloved homeland.  I had left home as an emigrant but became an exiled defender of democracy.  As I left, I recited these words I had once read and with which I identified.

Can more damage be done, there on the earth?
Dust that rises from the ruins,
smoke of the sacrifice, vapor of refuse
say yes, there can be . That there is more sorrow.
A vast yesterday is without a present
life sacrificed in what seems to be stone

Through the rubble I look for them, my dead;
most I grieve because they are so invisible
No one sees them; we see only maimed forms…

Ancient dead, long ago dead


The Four Muleteers
of those four men with mules
heading out of the fields,
the one with the dappled mule,
dark and tall.

Of those four men with mules
going down to water,
the one with the dapple mule
robbed my soul.
Of those four men with mules
heading down to the river,
the one with the dappled mule
is my husband.

Why do you borrow fire
in the street above,
when in your soot-streaked face
those coals live?


My name is Rosa Chacel, I went into exile in the United States and Argentina right at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War. I was born in Valladolid in 1898. In Buenos Aires, I wrote the majority of my work, including my novel, La sinrazón. I did not want to return to Spain until after the dictator’s death. The memories I had from that time were very strong and painful.

“A heart breaks more silently than glass, it does not create the shattering with which a precious object leaves this life: it goes in silence and leaves silence as it disappears. It leaves astonishment.  Not only is it no longer what it was, it is no longer what it was going to be.”

“My God, what am I doing here, separated from my fellow men? Why haven’t I once in my life been given the chance to talk ad nauseum with those who are at the forefront of thought?”


Theater was my life. I happened to be in Argentina when Franco declared victory. My name is Margarita Xirgu. I was the leading actress in some of Federico García Lorca’s most notable dramas. Adhering to my ideas and affiliations, I refused to return to Spain while Franco’s regime remained in power. During my exile in Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile, I continued my life’s passion and founded numerous theater companies.

“During the Civil War, I did nothing but remain faithful to the legitimate government and loyal to my friends within. Never did I stray. I orchestrated benefits in support of the Republican government and asked that the proceeds be allocated toward food for children in need. Exile, for me, was a terrible chapter of my life.”


My name is León Felipe. I was born in Tábara, a village in the province of Zamora. I have always been moved to act by injustice. I affiliated myself with the Spanish Republic and wrote reformist poetry with fervor. After the war I was forced onto the path of exile. I found myself in Mexico, where I lived out my final days. I never returned to Spain.

There, I embodied the figure of clairvoyant poet, a mix of Prometheus and Don Quixote, reciting verse almost mystically:

Yours is the hacienda,
The house,
The horse
And the pistol.
Mine is the ancient voice of the earth.
You keep everything
And leave me naked and wandering across the world…
But I leave you mute… mute!
And how are you going to harvest the wheat
And to feed the fire
If I carry off song?


Like so many of my friends in the Generation of ’27, I had no choice but to seek exile. I am

Emilio Prados, Aldalusian poet. Both before and after exile, I penned a large body of poetry, and as editor, I aided many others in the publication of their own works. In February 1939, I left Spain for France and then later for Mexico where I contributed to a multitude of cultural projects. I never returned to Spain, and my body remains in Mexico, my sister nation.

I left the poplars
Where will I go now?
I don’t want to rob death
If death does not rob me


Shortly before my death in Rome, I wrote, “I am María Teresa León. I am tired of not knowing where I will die.” I often recited these words during my time in exile.

Perhaps, it was not to forget what they had done to me, perhaps it was to remember I always had the option to return. Not knowing where you will live can be complicated, but not knowing where you will die is too heavy a burden for anyone to carry. My exile together with my husband Raphael Alberti began in 1940 and lasted almost forty years. It may not seem like much, but the years were long, constantly relocating between Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Rome.

“A fatherland, a modest land, like a treasured courtyard or a crevice in an ever-sturdy wall. A homeland to replace the one that was mercilessly torn from my soul.”